by Steven Barnes
|Good writing is often designed
around a character who has a distorted vision of himself or of the
world. During the story, he is placed under sufficient pressure to
force an epiphany, a moment of clarity in which, he sees the world
as it is, not as he wished it to be.
A classic example is “Casablanca,” where Bogart’s immortal Rick has managed to create an insular world in which he can pretend to be utterly detached and uninvolved. He supposedly has no political beliefs, and no real human connections. But the reappearance of Ilsa forces a cascade of events that cause Rick to reexamine his attitudes about love, fate, patriotism, courage, fidelity, friendship, and life itself.
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|Rick begins as a damaged, closed off character, carrying wounds to his heart and ego. What he WANTS is to be left alone to his self-pity. What he NEEDS is to be re-awakened to a life of purpose. The writers, wisely, give Rick what he needs, not what he wants, and in that manner a classic was born.|
As It Is
In Lifewriting™ we trust that the
quality of a writer’s skill will be heightened by his evolution
as a human being—in other words, his ability to write people
will be based on his capacity for honest observation of himself
and others. His ability to turn a plot creatively will be based
on his understanding of the world as it is—not as we often
fantasize it to be. This ability to create moments of suspense,
revelation, humor and horror often triggers an “ah! Life is just
like that!” response from the audience, a recognition of
universal humanity that can transcend culture and time.
Either attitude clouds our vision, makes it difficult to see the
world as it is. Those clouded inner eyes and warped “reality
maps” make it very difficult to navigate a path to our chosen
goals. Again and again we will bark our shins on invisible
rocks, crashing into invisible walls, almost as if life is
trying to teach us, to educate us, to enlighten us as to the
realities of existence.
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Drag Out The Truth
Often, we are dragged kicking and screaming
into clarity, forced ultimately to accept the ways we’ve been wrong.
“Too soon old, too late smart” is one rather fatalistic way of
speaking of this process. Too often, we must be old before we grasp
that WE are the ones who sabotaged our dreams of success. We are the
ones who refused to exercise and eat reasonably—that our bodies are
more the result of our behaviors than our genetics. We are the ones
who broke communication in our relationships, who lied and withheld
and blamed, and thought that “the other person” was responsible for
our misery. We are the ones who refused to grow up, to stop blaming
our parents, or society, or racism, ageism, sexism or any other
“ism” for our lack of happiness.
author: NY Times Bestselling writer Steven
Barnes has created Lifewriting™, the first holistic high-performance system for
writers and readers. Get a free daily Lifewriting™ tip at:
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